More than half of all Americans do not have a will. A survey done in 2010 found that only 29% of Americans have a living will, also known as an “advanced directive,” which formally states their views on end of life medical procedures. And powers of attorney – those documents that allow others to take care of your financial affairs in the event you become incapacitated – are in place for less than half of adults age 65 and older.
But we’re so young, you think. We have all of the time in the world to plan for the future. I understand. No one really wants to think about a possibility for life when you are no longer here. But the reality is that all of us – young and old – will one day pass away.
Some of you know my personal experience with this. One day, my father went to work. He collapsed in his office less than 10 minutes later. He was 56. No one expected it to happen that way.
We all know other stories – a mother and a car accident, a father and a tragic act of crime. If the time ever comes, who do you want to have making the most important decisions for your kids? You can make those decisions now, ahead of time and know that things are taken care of in the event of the what ifs of life.
What happens if you don’t have a will?
Your spouse doesn’t necessarily get everything. “It depends” is a good summary of the details of this part of the law.
- If your spouse is your second spouse, and you don’t have children together, your spouse is legally only entitled to 25% of your estate if you do not have a will?
- The probate process may be more difficult (i.e. more expensive)
- You don’t get to choose who is responsible for raising your children
No matter what you decide to do legally, be sure to take the time to tell someone your trust where you keep your important papers – mortgage statements, deeds, titles to the cars, things like that – so that if something happens there isn’t a mad dash through your house trying to find a single piece of paper.
Actually Doing This
Our process may be different than what you would expect. First, we would have a short phone conversation with you. We would go over some very basic information about you, your children and your basic wishes. Then, we would put together the basic documents. We would send the documents to your for review, and we would then set up a meeting to go over the documents, either in person or over the phone.
This is where we explain what’s in the basic documents – and where you can ask for changes based on your personal wishes. We make any changes you need and send you the final documents.
What documents do you need?
- Living will or advanced directive
- Healthcare Representative
- Power of Attorney
- Funeral Planning Directive
If you have children under 18, you will want something called a “springing trust” in your will that will place all of your assets into a trust to be managed by someone your trust until your kids are at least 18, and probably closer to 25. It prevents you from having to form a trust now, since you have no intention of going anywhere anytime soon. And it gives an automatic place for things to go without a big hassle being created in the event of something untimely happening.
When you’re ready, call us at 317-721-5290. We complete these things on a flat fee basis and can explain all of the required parts up front. If the fees are holding you back, let us know and we can work out a plan.
(c) KJD Legal 2014